Flexible office and residential building
Due to low land reserves and the associated sharp rise in land prices in the greater Freiburg area, our client acquired a commercial proper- ty that was almost 85% cheaper than the desi- red multi-family property. As a response to this ambivalence, which is not unusual nationally, we developed the idea of designing an office building that could be converted into a variable number of apartments if the land use plan were to be adjusted in the future with just a few inter- ventions on the expansion level.
A free-standing, three-storey solitaire was deve- loped based on the geometry of the property and the future, selective surrounding develop- ment of the new commercial area.
In order to enable flexible office and apartment sizes in the long term, even beyond the actual floor and thus also a later separation of the cur- rently planned two usage units into three, an external development in the north-east, facing the access road, was integrated. The projec- ting, semi-circular stair landing breaks up the clear geometry of the volume, marks the ent- rances to the individual units and serves as a communicator in the surrounding urban space. Barrier-free access is also from the outside via a through-loading elevator on the north facade.
With a 5 x 5 meter load-bearing grid, the buil- ding is transformed from the closed wall panel in the north, via a free-standing wall panel in the center, to an open support structure in the south with an adjoining, spacious outdoor area. Despite the high structural requirements of the earthquake zone, this structural transformation made it possible to create a resource-efficient, long-lasting supporting structure, which at the same time enables maximum flexibility in use and zoning.
Coherent with the functional concept, the ser- vice rooms such as toilets, storage and techno- logy are housed on the closed north wall. All work areas are oriented around the heart of the kitchen, as a communicative place of ex- change. The outdoor areas in the south are used for relaxation, for informal exchange and as a temporary workplace.
The conceptual guiding principle of the trans- formation is also reflected in the facade design. While the north facade appears completely opaque with a rear-ventilated trapezoidal sheet metal facade, the west and east facades open up to the surroundings with large window ele- ments measuring 2.5 x 3.0 meters. The south-fa- cing balconies and the terrace, which extend across the entire width of the building, form the conclusion and the second physical interface to the outside space.
The building zones are visually connected by the continuous horizontal façade bands, which also accommodate the textile sun protection. Inspired by the commercial context, all compo- nents of the building are planned in industrial quality and the interior is designed as a refined shell. On the other hand, there is a high propor- tion of glass in the façade, which is untypical for commercial areas. Curated by the use inside, this should create communication and revitalize the surrounding commercial area.
The building sees itself as a functionally sustai- nable and future-oriented building due to the massive construction required in the earthqua- ke area and the flexible and barrier-free usable floor plan. With special attention to the unbund- ling potential of the construction, the façade can be easily upgraded to the current status even if requirements change in the future.